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FCC Rules That Verizon Cannot Charge For 4G Tethering

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the and-there-was-much-rejoicing dept.

Verizon 218

schleprock63 writes "The FCC ruled today that Verizon cannot charge extra for users for 4G Wi-Fi tethering. The FCC used the original agreement in the auction of the C block spectrum which said 'licensees offering service on C Block spectrum "shall not deny, limit, or restrict the ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice on the licensee's C Block network, subject to narrow exceptions."' So Verizon cannot charge for tethering on 4G service, this raises the question of whether they can continue to charge for tethering on 3G or 1x?"

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Happy "Fuck Verizon Day" from the Golden Girls! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835037)

Thank you for being a friend
Traveled down the road and back again
Your heart is true, you're a pal and a cosmonaut.

And if you threw a party
Invited everyone you ever knew
You would see the biggest gift would be from me
And the card attached would say, thank you for being a friend.

Correction (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835081)

It's "Invited everyone you knew," shithead.

Ha ha.. I bet you thought I was going to say something about "cosmonaut" didn't you!

Re:Happy "Fuck Verizon Day" from the Golden Girls! (-1, Offtopic)

dyingtolive (1393037) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835093)

Still surprised they got away with that away with 'cosmonaut' in the lyrics during the cold war.

Re:Happy "Fuck Verizon Day" from the Golden Girls! (0)

Abalamahalamatandra (639919) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835751)

Uh what? Hopefully I won't hear a "whoosh", but it's "confidant" - as in, someone that can be trusted.

And yes, I'm showing my age - didn't even have to look it up.

Re:Happy "Fuck Verizon Day" from the Golden Girls! (0)

dyingtolive (1393037) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836077)

Yeah... sorry, I was being a little disingenuous.

To be fair, I actually had to look it up the first time I read the Golden Girls troll, but then again, I think that's what makes it so effective.

Re:Happy "Fuck Verizon Day" from the Golden Girls! (0)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836079)

I didn't have to look it up, either. Nonetheless... I think you've been whooshed.

We need a moderation option 'dumbshit'. (-1, Offtopic)

Picass0 (147474) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835141)

Next time cut and paste from a site that actually knows the lyrics.

Re:We need a moderation option 'dumbshit'. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835169)

in re your subject... it's not *that* bad.

Re:We need a moderation option 'dumbshit'. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835337)

Why? How would they have trolled you otherwise?

By the hair of my chinny-chin-chin. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835085)

So Verizon cannot charge for tethering on 4G service, this raises the question of whether they can continue to charge for tethering on 3G or 1x?

Your answer lies in those "narrow exceptions".

Re:By the hair of my chinny-chin-chin. (4, Insightful)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835511)

s'okay - even if the FCC ruled that Verizon cannot charge for any tethering at all, they'd simply charge for using the phone in a 'special data mode', or they'd happily rig all new phones to count double towards your data cap while tethered (after all, you're using two data 'channels' now - one to the laptop, and one to the tower!). Basically, they'd come up with some other sleazy move that sounds halfway legit to the non-techie user.

Never underestimate the capacity of a telecom carrier to do evil for profit.

Re:By the hair of my chinny-chin-chin. (5, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835643)

Yes, but at least the ruling means that if they try sleazy moves, there is a door to fight them.

Re:By the hair of my chinny-chin-chin. (3, Funny)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836129)

Suit yourself, but a Schmeisser is lighter, heaps easier to hold on to, and can be used from a greater (and safer) distance.

Re:By the hair of my chinny-chin-chin. (5, Funny)

Farmer Tim (530755) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835715)

Never underestimate the capacity of a telecom carrier to do evil for profit.

Wait, the profit isn't just a fringe benefit?

Re:By the hair of my chinny-chin-chin. (5, Informative)

PsyciatricHelp (951182) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835943)

So Verizon cannot charge for tethering on 4G service, this raises the question of whether they can continue to charge for tethering on 3G or 1x?

Your answer lies in those "narrow exceptions".

Its a regulation on the bandwidth block used for 4g. not the range for 3g. different frequencies, different rules.

Re:By the hair of my chinny-chin-chin. (2)

theqmann (716953) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836113)

Does 4G ONLY use the relevant C block? If it's multiband, couldn't they just re-direct data bits to the non-C block they already had and continue charging?

Good for the Judges (4, Interesting)

Nyder (754090) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835095)

About time we got some smart rulings.

I don't see why this won't apply to 3G or any other type of tethering either, since it's all the same.

Re:Good for the Judges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835147)

About time we got some smart rulings.

I don't see why this won't apply to 3G or any other type of tethering either, since it's all the same.

comes down to the limitations on the spectrum block. in that case the spectrum usage explicitly prohibited the restriction.

Re:Good for the Judges (4, Informative)

yakatz (1176317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835213)

I don't see why this won't apply to 3G or any other type of tethering either, since it's all the same.

Because the issue is in which part of the wireless spectrum they are using. As far as I can tell, this ruling only applies to the new C Block spectrum, not the parts of the spectrum they used to have.

Re:Good for the Judges (5, Informative)

jeffmeden (135043) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835271)

I don't see why this won't apply to 3G or any other type of tethering either, since it's all the same.

Because the issue is in which part of the wireless spectrum they are using. As far as I can tell, this ruling only applies to the new C Block spectrum, not the parts of the spectrum they used to have.

Exactly. This was the feature that Google basically spent $4B on a few years ago. The spectrum for LTE went to carriers specifically with the requirement that they follow "net neutrality" style rules on usage; no blocking or "channeling" certain features according to service.

Re:Good for the Judges (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835465)

Important note: BID $4B on, but did not win, so spent nothing.

Re:Good for the Judges (1)

schleprock63 (1451297) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835969)

exactly my point in the post. the ruling was very specific to the C block spectrum. 3g and 1x are different spectrum under different rules. i can see tethering when i'm in a 4g area, move to the 3g area and get completely screwed in fees! schleprock

Re:Good for the Judges (-1, Flamebait)

Desler (1608317) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835351)

Protip: The FCC is not a court.

Re:Good for the Judges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835413)

Protip: They are effectively a first-level court, at least in their area of power.

Not trying to be a dick, just trying to introduce you to the very baffling world of administrative law.

Re:Good for the Judges (5, Informative)

Archangel Michael (180766) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835461)

Correct. However the conclusion you've implied is not correct.

THIS is an administrative ruling, having the full force of law. It remains "law" until overruled by a court. The result is, that it is a law, until proven in a court to be otherwise.

Further, your implication is fairly short sighted, in that you assume something isn't a law (or acts like a law) unless a court rules on it. The fact is, most laws (and administrative rulings) are lawful until someone challenges it in a court.

THIS was an administrative hearing which FUNCTIONS much like a court for most intents and purposes. Therefore the ONLY recourse left to VZ is an actual court. And having already been ruled on by an Administrative hearing, the hurdle is much much higher for VZ than normal court case

Re:Good for the Judges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835777)

The FCC can do pretty much anything they want as long as its within their statutory authority. It can't violate the constitution, a subsequent act of congress, or be outside the scope of their mandate.

If it's the FCC's decision to make, the only reason Verizon got the chance to plead their case on the matter all is because the FCC chose to go about making the decision in that way.

Re:Good for the Judges (5, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835835)

THIS was an administrative hearing which FUNCTIONS much like a court for most intents and purposes. Therefore the ONLY recourse left to VZ is an actual court. And having already been ruled on by an Administrative hearing, the hurdle is much much higher for VZ than normal court case

$1.25 million (paid to the Treasury Dept) works out to 5,208 customers paying $20/month for a year.
Raise your hand if you really think Verizon only had 5,208 customers pay for 4G tethering.

Corporations love these consent decrees because it means they get a slap on the wrist in return for promising not to do [bad thing] again.
At the absolute bare minimum, Verizon should be paying back the customers their $20 x # of months.

Ninety nine times out of a hundred, consent decrees piss me the hell off.

Re:Good for the Judges (1)

Dunbal (464142) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836009)

Yeah and you always have to be careful about laws that create government branches and then sneak in little bits of text that say the new branches' regulations will have the same force as a law. So suddenly the "manager" of said government branch can make and strike down "laws" at will, without being accountable to anyone - unless of course the rest of the government decides to call them on it.

Re:Good for the Judges (1)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836233)

"THIS is an administrative ruling, having the full force of law. It remains "law" until overruled by a court."

No, it's a consent decree, which VZW has agreed to, and is therefore binding. They agreed to it, simply because they've implemented pay-per-GB "share everything" plans, where the more data used, the more money they make. That makes the decree pretty innocuous. They still have unlimited smartphone data contracts extant, and have traditionally allowed contracts to remain grandfathered, but they don't have to do so. The biggest reason for them not to move everyone off unlimited data immediately, is that to do so allows customers to cancel a contract with no early termination penalty. I expect that at some point, everyone will be forced onto plans where they make more money as you use more data. They've already stated that there will be no more subsidized phones (i.e. you'll pay $700 instead of $200 w/2 yr contract for a smartphone) if you want to keep unlimited data. So, that's basically $20/mo, only a bit less than they charged to tether.

Re:Good for the Judges (1)

Penguinisto (415985) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835567)

Protip: The FCC is not a court.

True, but they cannot simply be ignored, either. A pissed-off FCC can seriously ruin the day of any telecom carrier (or manufacturer, or broadcaster for that matter).

So yeah, basically Verizon will do what they say. I'm pretty sure Verizon wouldn't want some massive snafu getting in the way of license renewals or the next round of spectrum purchase bidding.

Re:Good for the Judges (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835607)

PureProTip: Violate FCC mandates, lose your spectrum, permanently. Regardless of how much you paid for them.

Re:Good for the Judges (2)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836189)

Somebody never worked in radio, did they?

Re:Good for the Judges (0)

msauve (701917) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836051)

"About time we got some smart rulings."

Except, it's a dumb ruling. Verizon didn't deny any device access - they just charged for each device, something which wasn't denied by the rules. They were device agnostic - you want to use your PC on spectrum C? They'll sell you an LTE modem and a contract. They'd even sell you a hotspot and contract which could support 5 simultaneous devices. Claiming that they violated the rules by not allow tethering apps is a red herring, as they were only useful to violate the contract terms. The real intent of the rule on allowing any app was to prevent the carrier-only app store, and consequent monopoly pricing, IMHO.

The real result of this is consumer hostile, as access costs have risen, significantly. VZW has obviously known this was how things were headed for a while. Why do you think they got rid of new unlimited smartphone data plans and went to more expensive "share everything" ones? If people hadn't gotten greedy, violated their contracts, and started pulling 50 GB of tethered data a month, VZW might still offer unlimited smartphone data. This ruling was the icing on the cake which forced them to move to "pay for volume" data pricing, where they're perfectly happy to have you use as much as possible, at a much higher cost.

And yet VZ was up 0.19 today (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835101)

Obviously, Wall Street is not too worried about this. They're trying to move everyone to bundled data packages anyway.

Verizon only (5, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835129)

Note that this ruling applies to Verizon ONLY. It's a result of the rules they agreed to during the 700MHz auction a few years ago. AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and everyone else are free to continue to charge you extra for what you already paid for.

Re:Verizon only (4, Informative)

pscottdv (676889) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835311)

T-Mobile lets me tether for no additional cost. In fact, tethering came preinstalled on my phone.

Re:Verizon only (2)

grahamsz (150076) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835755)

They've taken that away. Works on my G2, it worked on my girlfriend's old phone but when she upgraded to a Galaxy S, tmobile started charging her to tether.

It's a shame, makes me rethink staying with them

Re:Verizon only (1)

the_humeister (922869) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835917)

Root, install Cyanogenmod, done.

Re:Verizon only (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835937)

You can make a few changes to the http-agent of the browser you are using on tethered devices. Once you've done that, T-Mobile will never know you are tethering.

Re:Verizon only (5, Interesting)

MorrisonHiker (2697601) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835987)

Yep. My friend has the original Google Nexus One phone. For years, he had no problem tethering devices. Then one day, he started getting messages in the web browser telling him that he had to subscribe to a tethering plan for $15 or so a month. I showed him how to change a setting on his browser for the http user agent and he hasn't seen the tethering warning since.

tmobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835387)

long story short...t-mobile tethering is free.
I don't abuse it and only use it during emergencies (type long emails in laptop/ VPN), which has always come through for me when traveling out of state.

Re:tmobile (1)

geekmux (1040042) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835731)

long story short...t-mobile tethering is free. I don't abuse it and only use it during emergencies (type long emails in laptop/ VPN), which has always come through for me when traveling out of state.

long story short...shortsightedness is still...short.

Nothing is free. Your bill is merely printed differently to not itemize certain features.

All of this is bullshit is nothing more than window dressing, and will be proven once Verizon loses, and does nothing more than adjust their package rates from obscene to ludicrous...oh, and print their bills like yours.

Re:tmobile (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836155)

If Verizon could just increase the rates without losing customers, why exactly haven't they done so already? They hate free money?

So if I read the article correctly (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835131)

So if I read the article correctly, since they're no longer able to charge $20/mo for tethering, we should all brace for industry-wide data plan price increases of... about $20.

Re:So if I read the article correctly (1)

Atzanteol (99067) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835641)

That's what I'm reading too...

Re:So if I read the article correctly (4, Insightful)

hawguy (1600213) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835765)

So if I read the article correctly, since they're no longer able to charge $20/mo for tethering, we should all brace for industry-wide data plan price increases of... about $20.

If they thought they could have already raised prices $20 without resulting in a backlash leading to loss of revenue or other undesirable outcome (i.e. price regulation), they would have already done so.

But in any case, if they want to make the same revenue the price increase would be lower than $20. If 1 out of 10 customers bought the tethering plan, then they'd only need to raise prices $2 for everyone to make the same amount of revenue.

Free tethering then? Maybe.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835157)

Heh of course denying them the ability to charge for it is not the same them as forcing them to make it available. We can't charge for it? Fine then tethering is not allowed.

Re:Free tethering then? Maybe.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835319)

Perhaps you should read the article summary, especially this part:

[Licensee] shall not deny, limit, or restrict the ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice on the licensee's C Block network, subject to narrow exceptions

Verizon might have had a leg to stand on if they never allowed tethering to begin with, but now the cat is out of the bag they can't deny it.

Re:Free tethering then? Maybe.. (3, Insightful)

pscottdv (676889) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835323)

"shall not deny, limit, or restrict the ability of their customers to use the devices and applications of their choice on the licensee's C Block network, subject to narrow exceptions"

Ah-HA (5, Interesting)

DWMorse (1816016) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835161)

So THIS is why they converted to the consumer benefit-free data-bucket plans. You can add any device to your plan, but they'll make sure it bites your smartphone and every other device in your plan in the ass if you make a single wrong step. Well played.

FCC: "Can you hear us now?"
VZN: "Yeah, and we got it covered."

Re:Ah-HA (1)

rgbrenner (317308) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835495)

Huh??? Are you saying that previously you could tether a device and it would not have counted? Yeah right...

You were going to get charged for the bandwidth either way. Previously it would have count against the smartphones data usage.

your post really doesn't make any sense.

Re:Ah-HA (2)

Atzanteol (99067) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835665)

Previously VZW offered unlimited 3G plans (like the one I'm still on). And if you root your phone you get free tethering. So no, it wouldn't count.

Re:Ah-HA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40836207)

How is it free?
You already paid for the unlimited plan.
Unless rooting your phone somehow means you don't have to pay for that either.

Re:Ah-HA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835967)

Previously, you could get your own set of bandwidth per device. And limit that single device from going over, either through carrier, or via your own monitoring. After all, you knew exactly how much of that devices bandwidth had been used. ("Oh, I know my laptop only has 2GB, and I've used 1.75GB so far, my lil' app sez so. I'm good.")

Now it's far more ambiguous. You have to use their website to monitor your OVERALL plan bandwidth. Each user can't be responsible for their own device(s) independently. And their website? Guess what, it's certifiably delayed in updating, running a good day behind. ("Alright, I can download that 200MB patch, I'm covered, I still have 250MB in my plan left. ... what the hell, what's this overage charge 3 weeks later? Oh damn, the app update everyone's smartphone downloaded that same day! You got me again, Verizon!")

Of course they're only going to charge you per device you plug into your data-bucket. The more devices you plug into your shared bandwidth bucket, the more opportunities you have to accidentally drain it, the more chances they have to nail you for overages. It doesn't pad their bottom line to protect your monthly budget. That's not in their best interest, no CEO gets a bonus from that.

Too late... (4, Funny)

plazman30 (531348) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835191)

I'm still leaving as soon as the iPhone 5 comes out. Only so many times that you can be treated like complete crap before you won't take it any more.

Re:Too late... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835259)

i hope you realize the irony of your statement...

Re:Too late... (3, Informative)

Bonker (243350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835275)

Wait... You're leaving Verizon because they've treated you like complete crap and are going to either Sprint or ATT?

I mean, let's completely ignore for the moment how Apple treats their customers. Sprint or ATT? You SERIOUSLY think either of these guys will treat you better than Verizon?

Re:Too late... (5, Insightful)

dyingtolive (1393037) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835301)

The warm glow of consumerism will shield him from ATT/Sprint.

Re:Too late... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835649)

Fucking LOL

Re:Too late... (1)

Phteven (2603943) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835397)

There's always Virgin Mobile [virginmobileusa.com] . Yes, I know they're a subsidiary of Sprint (in the U.S.), and they probably won't be getting the iPhone 5 anytime soon, but you can get the iPhone 4S with unlimited data and texting for $30 a month.

Re:Too late... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835595)

And to make it even easier to do said action, in the USA, even big box retailers like Target carry unlocked iPhone 4 and 4S's for Virgin Mobile.

Re:Too late... (3, Funny)

Bonker (243350) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835627)

Virgin Mobile is actually what I use for cell service, simply because Pay-as-you-go service nicely prevents any overcharge hijinks.

Choosing between Verizon, Sprint, and ATT is like choosing between Joe Jackson, Ike Turner, and O.J. Simpson.

Virgin Mobile is like Bobby Brown, holding to the terribly flawed analogy. You're gonna regret hooking up, but at least you can get away from it if you're not on crack.

Re:Too late... (1)

Mike Buddha (10734) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835889)

Choosing between Verizon, Sprint, and ATT is like choosing between Joe Jackson, Ike Turner, and O.J. Simpson.

Virgin Mobile is like Bobby Brown, holding to the terribly flawed analogy. You're gonna regret hooking up, but at least you can get away from it if you're not on crack.

Well, Joe Jackson has way better coverage way out West.

And its so cheap (1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835985)

I'm on the $25 "grandfathered" data plan. 300 talk minutes and unlimited data (2.5GB limit until throttling). Still only $25 a month without a contract, beat that.

Re:Too late... (2)

jxander (2605655) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835509)

There area actually quite a few pay-as-you-go vendors that support high end phones these days.

If you don't mind eating a $600+ initial investment to buy your own phone outright. Virgin Mobile has good reception in my area, and costs a mere $30/month for unlimited text and data.

Re:Too late... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835543)

Just as a datapoint, I have always been treated quite well by Sprint. In contrast, Verizon is the antichrist.

Re:Too late... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835615)

Sprint or ATT? You SERIOUSLY think either of these guys will treat you better than Verizon?

Traditionally, they have always done so. There is no single provider that will treat you worse than Verizon. Don't get me wrong, AT&T sucks, but they can't match verizon in suckitude.

Sprint not only beats verizon, but is actually pretty damn good. What's your problem with them?

Re:Too late... (1)

Keen Anthony (762006) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835685)

You kinda failed to ignore Apple yourself there. I might leave Verizon for AT&T as well. They will have the more interesting Windows phone, the iPhone 5, and Androids that aren't Motorola (which I am no longer supporting). Sure, AT&T customers have their own complaints, but for years I've stuck with Verizon because Verizon swore that life outside Verizon walls was no life at all. It was cold and dangerous, and there was no connectivity. It's just not that true in my area. Besides, I know that once I have a 4G phone in my hands, I'll blow through Verizon's paltry bandwidth cap in no time at all (I'm grandfathered unlimited now). There's just no benefit to being with Verizon under the new plans once you discount for connectivity in the middle of nowhere like Mojave unless you really want one of the exclusive phones.

Re:Too late... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835821)

Sprint at least doesn't have an anti-consumer data plan with a ridiculously low bandwidth cap. What is the point of a fast connection with a 20G or less cap? If you actually did anything that requires a fast connection you'd exceed that in a couple days.

Re:Too late... (1)

OhPlz (168413) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836115)

I had been a Verizon Wireless customer since the late 90s. I recently dropped them and went with a prepaid provider, switching to the unlocked Google Nexus sold directly from Google. I've had it for a few months now and there hasn't been anything to complain about. The monthly cost is about what I was paying for a lousy voice plan, grandfathered evdo data, and no texting on an ancient Motorola flip phone. These companies are just reselling the bigger company's network so the bargain may not last forever if the big guys lose all their customers, but at least for now there are options.

The only drawback is that you have to pay out of pocket for the phone. But with the increase in monthly charges I would have faced through Verizon to go to a "smartphone", I would have paid for it within not too many months even IF they covered the whole cost of the phone.

Re:Too late... (2)

CaptainLard (1902452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835333)

Moving to Finland aye?

(That was where most of the lowest price/best connectivity braggarts claim they're from, right?)

Re:Too late... (3, Interesting)

MobileTatsu-NJG (946591) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835927)

Before you get too excited about switching carriers, I should let you know I'm leaving AT&T because their idea of a contract is that I pay them until the contract is over, but they don't have to hold up their end of the deal. Here's my story:

Last year I renewed my contract with Unlimited Data grandfathered in. Six months later they announced a 3 gig limit before 'throttling' would begin. (At this point I'd like to note that my contract does mention they'll play around with network performance as necessary, but the 3 gig limit is NOT specified in it.. they just arbitrarily added it.) They do not say, however, what the minimum speed will be. In my view, this is a critical component of the contract. The speed that they reduce the connection down to affects the tasks I can do with my phone. I don't care, for example, if I cannot watch Netflix on the road, but if I cannot get email or text messaging, then how can they really call it "unlimited"?

I contacted their customer service, after going round and round with lines like "well if you use Wifi..." or "if you switch to a tiered plan..." or "... well it really won't affect you", I could not get an answer. One day I got a letter from AT&T from some VP of such and such department saying that I should be happy because they've upgraded the network in my area and that they're glad I'm continuing to be a customer of theirs. At the bottom was a request for feedback with this VP's email address. I emailed him explaining that I don't know what 'throttling' actually means and, instead of writing me back, he punted my message off to customer service. Frustrated, I emailed again and told them that if they had read my email they would realize that I'm addressing the VP and that customer service was already of no help and.. customer service, NOT the VP, replied again. They said that their network performance was proprietary information that they would NOT share with me. The only way I'll find out how slow my connection will be throttled is if I go over the limit and see what happens. I'm getting to a point where this is very tempting to do. I don't really want to abuse their resources but they're driving me to it.

If you do end up going to AT&T I wish you luck, but I strongly recommend that you do NOT assume that any contract you enter into with them will mean you'll have any guarantees of service. Two years is a long time to be disgruntled.

FUCK THE FCC!! (2)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835195)

...wait.. what? They did something good for customers?

[Gilda Radner] Never Mind [/Gilda Radner]

Re:FUCK THE FCC!! (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835261)

...wait.. what? They did something good for customers?

[Gilda Radner] Never Mind [/Gilda Radner]

You really expect most Slashdotters to google Gilda?

Re:FUCK THE FCC!! (1)

LateArthurDent (1403947) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835625)

...wait.. what? They did something good for customers?

[Gilda Radner] Never Mind [/Gilda Radner]

You really expect most Slashdotters to google Gilda?

You expect anyone to need to google Gilda?

Re:FUCK THE FCC!! (1)

AngryDeuce (2205124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835667)

Dude, what are you talking about? We're all fucking old.

Re:FUCK THE FCC!! (2)

Sylak (1611137) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835297)

The FCC tends to do things good for the consumer when it's NOT related to commercial broadcast TV and Radio spectrums.

Re:FUCK THE FCC!! (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835863)

Are the customers getting their money back?
You know, for the tethering costs they should never have paid?

...wait.. what? The customers aren't?
Never Mind

Solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835247)

All current Verizon 4G plans are "grandfathered" with no device upgrades possible.

All new Verizon activations and upgrades, including existing 3G users (that's you, everyone with an iPhone) will include free tethering. And these new plans will only cost $30 more per month than your previous Verizon plan.

What Does This Mean? (1)

Githaron (2462596) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835277)

What does this mean for us that have unlimited 4G data plans?

Re:What Does This Mean? (1)

rmdingler (1955220) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835347)

If Verizon resembles Sprint, it means they've been taxing that ass...perhaps inappropriately.

Re:What Does This Mean? (1)

evilRhino (638506) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835569)

It means that you can tether away. Just keep in mind that if you buy another subsidized phone, you will lose your unlimited plan.

Don't worry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835303)

It won't be long before they find a way around it. They could raise everyone's rates by $20 / mo, or they could simply deny the ability to teather. Either way the company always wins and the end user always gets screwed.

"Fast" lane. (1)

Ostracus (1354233) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835309)

So Verizon cannot charge for tethering on 4G service, this raises the question of whether they can continue to charge for tethering on 3G or 1x?

Who in the world tethers a 1xRTT connection? 3G is more understandable, but still slow.

Re:"Fast" lane. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835657)

Who in the world tethers a 1xRTT connection? 3G is more understandable, but still slow.

Welcome to Dakota.

Such radical thinking (1)

Andrio (2580551) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835379)

You mean to tell me I can use the data I already paid for, without paying extra arbitrarily? What kind of radical thinking is this?

In all seriousness, Verizon and the others should be forced to refund all they've charged for tethering. That was theft, pure and simple.

Re:Such radical thinking (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835501)

How is it anything even close to theft? I just checked my bill and everything I signed up for was right there. They didn't charge me anything for tethering because I said not to. If someones willing to pay for using Verizon's network in ways Verizon didn't intend how is that theft?

Re:Such radical thinking (2)

Andrio (2580551) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835677)

You paid for a certain amount of data. Let's say 3 GB. What you do with that data shouldn't matter. Yet they charge you 30 bucks (or whatever) to use that data in a specific way.

Re:Such radical thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40836125)

How do they even know you're tethering?
How do they distinguish data usage from a phone from data usage from a laptop?
If you start torrenting that might give a hint, but otherwise it seems to me you can't really tell.

Re:Such radical thinking (1)

Andrio (2580551) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836223)

They don't let you tether if you don't pay for the service. You can get around it by being rooted though.

Pay For Teathering (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835385)

Who on /. actually pays for tethering!

Fuck FCC? No.. Fuck Cellphones. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40835411)

Call me a friggin' old bastard, but one day I just said... Fuck it, I don't need a cellphone.

I work from home, thankfully I can do this as I'm in IT.. as are most people that use this site. But I just got so fed up with it. I figured, ya know what, I've got Skype and my computers, that's all I need. People know how to reach me. I'm not much of a talker anyhow. And, above and beyond that, I could care less about using the phone outside my home to check-in to social networking sites and gimmicky apps that allow me to be mayor of a store. I really don't give a rats ass and it's certainly not worth $100+ for me and my family.

If I really need internet access, I just bring my tablet and find a damned WiFi hotspot at McDonald's or Starbucks. Until prices go way down or VOIP becomes more acceptable in the cell industry, I've had enough.

In fact, I remember what pissed me off... I specifically got Skype on Verizon a few years ago, just used the smartphone functionality. Well shit, Verizon bought Skype... I ended up having to use Skype calls like regular phone calls. That's when I knew I was not looking back.

Re:Fuck FCC? No.. Fuck Cellphones. (2)

charlieo88 (658362) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835619)

In fact, I remember what pissed me off... I specifically got Skype on Verizon a few years ago, just used the smartphone functionality. Well shit, Verizon bought Skype... I ended up having to use Skype calls like regular phone calls. That's when I knew I was not looking back.

Verizon didn't by Skype, Microsoft did for $8b. Skype was Verizon's bitch for free.

I'll be waiting to hear from T-Mobile (1)

scottbomb (1290580) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835427)

What they used to give me at no extra charge (tethering/hot-spot) they now charge $15/mo. I don't even use it very often but I DO use it. Most of the time, I don't even come close to my high-speed data limit (5 GB) either.

Re:I'll be waiting to hear from T-Mobile (1)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835547)

If you don't mind 3G, get an N900 (or similarly 3G capable phone that is equally carrier-hostile) and do tethering through that.

Not sure about the carrier-hostile 4G equivalent though.

Good, now can we kill metered data as well? (2)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 2 years ago | (#40835521)

If the FCC had any bravery in them, they'd find a way to kill off the rampant use of metered data - and without the carrier raising the cost.

The lack of metered data is what had made the Internet good to work with. Now all it does is just engender politics about who gets exempt - much like the Bad Old Days of Compuserve.

Can't even USB tether on my phone (1)

CosaNostra Pizza Inc (1299163) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836017)

This is good news. My Verizon Galaxy Nexus is supposed to allow USB tethering but when I tried it, I got a popup with an 800 number and a message saying I have to order a special data plane. I'd be happy with any kind of tethering so I can use my laptop where my phone works.

They can't block tethering apps, but can charge (1)

thisisauniqueid (825395) | more than 2 years ago | (#40836195)

I read elsewhere that they can't block tethering apps, but they can continue charging for tethering.
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